Toronto fest a U.S. invitational

Titles from Schrader, Harlin among 6 new galas scheduled

The Toronto International Film Festival on Wednesday unveiled its most U.S.-friendly lineup in years, capped off with new titles from Renny Harlin, Paul Schrader and Robin Swicord (HR 8/23).

Toronto boasts no official competition. But the Hollywood contingent booked for the twice-nightly gala screenings at the festival's Roy Thomson Hall looks set to turn the high-profile venue into an industry shindig.

Among the six new gala titles are Harlin's "Cleaner," a Sony Pictures thriller starring Samuel L. Jackson as a cop-turned-street cleaner; the Richard Attenborough-directed love story "Closing the Ring," starring Shirley MacLaine, Mischa Barton and Neve Campbell; and Schrader's "The Walker," a ThinkFilm release starring Woody Harrelson that comes to Toronto by way of Berlin, Cannes and Sydney.

Also joining the Roy Thomson Hall party are two Sony Pictures Classics releases: Kenneth Branagh's Michael Caine-Jude Law starrer "Sleuth," which bowed in Venice, and Swicord's "The Jane Austen Book Club," starring Jimmy Smits, Amy Brenneman and Maria Bello. Also booked for a gala is French director Alain Corneau's "Le deuxieme souffle," starring Daniel Auteuil and Monica Bellucci.

Toronto, which in recent years has stepped up efforts to make its festival more Hollywood friendly, also has included 28 U.S.-produced films in its 50-strong Special Presentations sidebar.

The Sept. 6-15 fest will unspool 352 films — 261 features and 91 shorts. The lineup includes 101 world premieres and 108 North American premieres.

High-profile French titles looking for U.S. distribution at the festival will include Amos Gitai's "Disengagement," Claude Chabrol's "La fille coupee en deux" and Eric Rohmer's "Les amours d'astreet et de celadon."

The complete Toronto festival lineup is available at www.hollywoodreporter.com.
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